Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fun Playing With Passover Food 2010

Once again, we have completed another round of Seders. This year, both were served at our house. And, we had a marvelous, if exhausting, time playing with the traditional - and some not-so-traditional - Passover foods. If you search my blog for "Passover" - you will find a number of posts detailing the preparation of most of my Passover favorites, so I'm not going to repeat them here.

However, with the "give me back that Filet O Fish" jingle still playing incessantly on the TV, it was fun to go from whole snappers and halibut filet to that precursor to the modern processed fish product: Gefilte Fish. The whitefish, pike and yes, carp, that I received from Mister Brisket this year was the best yet - beautifully fresh and sweet.

Meaty Skeletons and Fish Heads Go Into the Soup Pot to Make Fish Stock

Ground Fish Mixture (with onion) Meets Plum Creek Farm Fresh Eggs

Add some matzoh meal (which we grind from whole matzoh in the food processor):

Form into quenelles, poach in the stock with garden carrots, and the fish is ready to chill!

These carrots are from our 2009 garden; they survived the winter in the ground very nicely, thank you.

Seder Table

Seder Plate

This year, the part of the lamb shank bone was played by a shoulder bone from our Breychak Farm lamb.

Ah - there's that fish! Astride a big bowl of Bob's garden horseradish, which had a serious kick this year!

Garden Hot Peppers From the Freezer

Matzoh Ball Soup

In this blog post on soup-making from 2008, I recounted how I learned about the importance of never letting my soup boil. This year, due to a number of reasons, my soup pot boiled twice - briefly, but enough to cloud the soup a bit. It was, however, one of the best tasting soups we've made - I used the "double stock" method described by Barbara Tropp in her book "China Moon Cookbook." Bob had just made a beautiful chicken-turkey stock the week before. I used that in place of a bunch of the water in the soup pot. The matzoh balls came out very nicely, though a tad more toothy than I like them.

The first night of Passover, our guests included Linda and Fred Griffith, who are accomplished cooks and cookbook authors. (I just saw on that the Garlic book can be downloaded to Kindle - cool!) Linda is cooking less these days, since a car accident left her with lingering injuries, and her kitchen downsized. But on Jewish Holidays, we have great fun each contributing different elements to our festive dinners together. In addition to her signature chopped liver-pate and a lovely North African seasoned brisket (with tomato and coriander), Linda brought a hearty tzimmes (which translates to "stew" or "pudding") in a gorgeous serving vessel:

Tzimmes of Carrot, Sweet Potato, White Potato, and Dried Plums

Linda also made this lovely Spinach Pie:

Sorry, I was too pooped to picture the pate and the meat. Guess that means we'll have to do this again, right? I made my usual Farfel Pudding, and Bob made Brisket and Potato Kugel for our second night; follow the links to see prior incarnations.

For dessert, Linda brought a light, airy Banana-Almond Cake that I wouldn't have believed was for Passover if she hadn't told me so:

Since I had a little more time at the front end this year, I decided to play with desserts a bit myself. I started by making a Creme Anglaise I read about on Michael Ruhlman's blog. Unfortunately, for the second time this holiday season - my attention was pulled from the pot for a few seconds too many, and it boiled. Tasted delicious, but, as you will see below, the texture was ruined.

My motivation in making the anglaise was to, as Mr. Ruhlman suggested, have it accompany David Lebovitz's Chocolate Idiot Cake. Fortunately for me, this cake lives up to its name, and came out beautifully.

Even though I've never made Passover desserts before, I reasoned that so long as the anglaise would use 7 egg yolks, and a macaroon recipe I'd happened upon used 7 egg whites - why the heck shouldn't I make my own macaroons?

I've never been a huge coconut fan - and now I know why. As with shrimp - the quality of this ingredient is crucial. We sought out preservative-and-chemical-free product (the heck with "Kosher for Passover") and wound up purchasing Bob's Red Mill Shredded Coconut at Mustard Seed Market in Solon. WOW! What a difference good coconut makes. It costs more and it's hard to find - but it is so worth it!

My Dessert Plate Seder #2: Chocolate Idiot Cake, Anglaise, Macaroon

A sweet end to a lovely set of Seders, filled with good friends, great foods and lots of fun!

And now, a brief look at some of the leftovers, which made for fun eats also.

Tuesday Brunch

Linda's brisket is resplendent atop her Spinach Pie, with a hearty dollop of Garden Horseradish. Yum!
Wednesday Brunch

Gefilte Fish, Carrots, Hard Cooked Plum Creek Farm Egg, Garden Horseradish, Matzoh

The eggs were cooked using Alton Brown's steaming method: 12 minutes over steam. Creamy, delicious, and a perfect end to this tale of Passover goodness. I wish you all a joyous Spring holiday of your choice - make sure that you play with some food, ok?